76ers rest starters ahead of playoffs, beat Bulls 125-109
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid watched Philadelphia’s regular-season finale with the team’s other four resting starters, and the center’s status for the playoff opener is in question.
Philadelphia, the No. 3 seed, will host sixth-seeded Brooklyn in the first round. Embiid’s achy left knee may prevent the All-Star from playing in the postseason opener.
General manager Elton Brand said Wednesday that Embiid was expected to play in the postseason, but added it was “possible” the 7-footer wouldn’t be ready for the first game. Embiid sat Wednesday for the fifth time in seven games.
Embiid is averaging 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds, but has missed 14 games since the All-Star break due to rest and injury.
Coach Brett Brown thinks Embiid will be ready to face the Nets.
“I expect our starters to be available,” Brown said. “If somebody tells me different, so be it.”
After taking one more question on Embiid, the normally affable Brown appeared perturbed and cut off further queries about Embiid’s health. The coach said the team would provide further updates through its injury report.
Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris also didn’t play against the Bulls, and the lack of on-court time together for Philadelphia’s heralded starting five is an admitted concern of Brown heading into the postseason. The quintet has appeared together in just 10 games since Brand put in place the final piece of the starting puzzle by acquiring Harris at the trade deadline.
Brand didn’t dismiss the notion that it would’ve been helpful for the group to play more together, but he didn’t entirely embrace it either.
“Star players win in the playoffs and that’s what we’re built for,” Brand said before Wednesday’s game. “I like our chances against any team.”
After being eliminated in the second round last season, the general manager would consider anything short of advancing past the second round this year as an unsuccessful season.
“We want to make a deep playoff run,” Brand said. “We didn’t have the weapons (last year) we have this year.”
WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR
Meantime, the Bulls missed the playoffs for the second straight year and third time in the last four seasons. They closed the season losing eight of nine, finishing 22-60.
Coach Jim Boylen is looking forward to a full training camp. It has been a tumultuous rebuilding season for the Bulls, with Boylen taking over for fired Fred Hoiberg in December only to face a reported player mutiny shortly after his hire.
Boylen isn’t concerned about his reputation.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve had great relationships with players,” Boylen said.
Chicago: Walt Lemon Jr. scored 20 points to lead the Bulls. . The Bulls were without Denzel Valentine, Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Kris Dunn. … Chicago set a franchise mark for its worst home record at 9-32, culminating with Tuesday’s 96-86 loss to the Knicks.
Philadelphia: Jonathon Simmons had 20 points to lead the 76ers. . Brown said the 76ers will go “8 ½” players deep in the playoffs. … The 76ers promoted Lindsey Harding from scout to player development coach. … James Ennis III, who is expected to be a contributor off the bench in the postseason, also was out Wednesday with a right quad contusion. … The 76ers split four games against the Nets this season. .. Philadelphia finished 31-10 at home.
Chicago: End of regular season.
Philadelphia: Host Brooklyn in first round of playoffs.